To hold the apparent paradox between science and religion* in a meaningful way, I propose a modern metaphor, the wave-particle duality of light. Einstein proved that light is the constant in the universe, and time is a variable, or as J.S. Bell said it, “In the realm of light there is no time.” Clearly light is a fundamental concept in the universe.

My favorite scripture is God’s declaration at the beginning of creation, “Fiat Lux,” or let there be light. For a long time we debated what exactly light was. In the 1600s, Isaac Newton said that light was a particle, while Christiaan Huygens argued that it was a wave. With modern science we discovered a new the answer: it is both. If we measure where light is at an exact time and place we see a particle. If we measure the pattern of light over time we see a wave. The wave-particle duality is equally true of the atoms of your desk, the snot in your nose, and the air we breathe. It appears that everything in the universe is both a wave and a particle at the same time, the difference lies in how we perceive it.

Arguing over the perspectives of science and religion is like arguing over waves and particles. Yes it is one and yes it is the other. Yes we can view existence through the lens of science and discover its marvels, and yes we can embrace soulful explanations for life and its meaning that exist outside of our ability to measurement. One does not invalidate the other, just as waves do not invalidate particles. To argue from only one perspective, truth is in science or truth is in spirit, is to endless prove your own argument but ultimately miss the truth.

Pacifica Ridge from Brooks Falls Trail

* I know it is out of fashion with the smart set, but I believe religion is essential. We need culture, symbols, rituals, and stories that explain how our individual lives in our vast and confusing universe. Most importantly, we need a relationship with the essence of the universe that is so much bigger than ourselves. Sadly, concepts like religion, God, and spirit have been co-opted by the haters. We cannot let their pinched minds rob the rest of us of some most useful concepts, vocabulary, and beliefs. The divine glow of the universe is way too beautiful and important. We must all celebrate it in whatever way that makes our hearts sing.